VIEWS: 27 PAGES: 3 CATEGORY: Social Sciences POSTED ON: 6/26/2010
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372 BOOK REVIEWS wounded bodies screams for justice or even mental health care, after being ignored or avoid- revenge (126)?” ed for decades by many secular practitioners. In For Volf, “The generous release of a genuine Spiritual Resources in Family Therapy (2nd ed.), debt is the heart of forgiveness (130).” As with Froma Walsh (Ed.) has assembled a broad collec- giving, Volf finds Christian forgiveness involves a tion of essays that provide both theoretical and triangle: God, the wrongdoer, and the wronged practical considerations on how to work with the person. Here and elsewhere in the discussion, spiritual dimension in couples and families. JPC readers will discern a divergence from com- Although the book has a multi-faith perspective, mon psychological conceptions of forgiveness as the focus is on spirituality in general, which an intrapersonal event. For Volf, forgiveness Walsh defines as “a dimension of human experi- includes giving the gift of forgiveness to the ence involving personal transcendent beliefs and wrongdoer, which psychological models would practices, within or outside formal religion, commonly consider an act of reconciliation. Sim- through family and cultural heritage, and in con- ilar to other formulations of the forgiveness pro- nection with nature and humanity” (p. 5). cess, the manner in which Volf describes The book is divided into three parts, contain- forgiveness indicates his appreciation of the ing a total of twenty chapters. Part I provides an importance of affirming the wrongdoing, recog- overview of the topic. Chapter one begins by nizing the justice gap, and taking another’s per- examining the diversity, yet importance of spiri- spective. However, Volf does not distinguish tual beliefs and practices in North America, while between forgiveness and reconciliation as rigidly also providing an introduction to spirituality in distinct concepts when he notes the importance families, including how it changes across the of expressed forgiveness within a community. family life cycle. The next chapter presents an God’s love is freely given and freely expressed. introductory discussion about integrating spiritu- As a god-inspired gift, believers express forgive- ality in family therapy, concentrating on how to ness to enhance community relations. Giving for- address spiritual sources of distress, while utiliz- giveness promotes reconciliation. Volf ing spiritual resources in treatment. contextualizes giving and forgiving within a Part II details how spirituality can increase community. resiliency in families by helping them overcome Readers of JPC will find Volf’s perspective on difficulties and by strengthening interpersonal giving and forgiving refreshing. For me, he connections. This section includes a chapter on achieved his purpose of relating giving and for- the relationship between spirituality, suffering, giving to the character of God and showing their and beliefs in families experiencing major health importance to community. This brief and orderly problems as well as a chapter on how spiritual volume makes it suitable for an added reader in resources can help families deal with the loss of a college course or a small group book study. loves ones. An interesting chapter, by Steven J. Although at times his metaphysical rationales for Wolin and colleagues, describes how Buddhism, a particular premise (e.g., interactions among Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam per- members of the trinity) do not subserve any man- ceive and encourage resiliency, which is useful ifest purpose, Volf cap
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